Only one year remains before the much-anticipated Beijing Olympics and Christians are preparing in advance for a spiritual harvest in China.
While the Chinese government throws a huge festival on Wednesday – one year ahead of the Aug. 8, 2008 games – Christians will be on their knees praying for persecuted Christians in China and for a spiritual revival in the country.
"The Beijing Olympics is only one year away; so we need to blanket Chinese believers right now with our prayers," urged Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller, in a statement Tuesday.
"Already there are reports of increased pressure on house church leaders and the expulsion of foreign missionaries," noted Moeller, referring to the more than 100 foreign missionaries that were expelled from China between April and June as a result of a government-sponsored campaign to prevent evangelization during the Olympics.
"And the raids and arrest are expected to increase as the start of the Olympic draws closer. China wants to weed out the potential 'troublemakers' and put its best foot forward to the world. And Christians could be caught in the crossfire," said Moeller.
Communist China has been severely criticized for its human rights and religious freedom violations, especially as it prepares to host the Olympics.
Among the top concerns in China for Christians are the persecution of unregistered house churches and the forced return of North Korean refugees in China who face torture and even death upon repatriation.
It is said that at least 500,000 North Koreans have crossed the border over to China in the past 10 years. However, China has signed an agreement with its communist ally to return refugees back to North Korea where they face imprisonment, torture, and sometimes execution for leaving the country – a state crime.
Open Doors in response to persecution and other difficulties allegedly caused by Beijing, is urging Christians in the West to join its "One Minute/One Year/One Country" prayer campaign.
So far over 500 prayer warriors have signed up for the campaign.
Participants starting on Aug. 8, 2007 are encouraged to pray for at least one minute, every day at 8 p.m. Beijing time (8 a.m. EDT). The one-year prayer campaign hopes to change the spiritual state of China, improving religious freedom and freeing imprisoned Christian leaders.
"I encourage you to sign up now for the One Minute/One Year/One Country campaign on our website," urged the Open Doors' Moeller. "Tell others about the campaign. Together we can make a difference. And prayer is the No. 1 way."
The 2008 Summer Olympics Games will be held Aug. 8-24, 2008.
On the Web: Online clock with current time in Beijing, China, at www.opendoorsusa.org